Background: The distinction between Burkitt's lymphoma and diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma is unclear. We used transcriptional and genomic profiling to define Burkitt's lymphoma more precisely and to distinguish subgroups in other types of mature aggressive B-cell lymphomas.
Methods: We performed gene-expression profiling using Affymetrix U133A GeneChips with RNA from 220 mature aggressive B-cell lymphomas, including a core group of 8 Burkitt's lymphomas that met all World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. A molecular signature for Burkitt's lymphoma was generated, and chromosomal abnormalities were detected with interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization and array-based comparative genomic hybridization.
Results: We used the molecular signature for Burkitt's lymphoma to identify 44 cases: 11 had the morphologic features of diffuse large-B-cell lymphomas, 4 were unclassifiable mature aggressive B-cell lymphomas, and 29 had a classic or atypical Burkitt's morphologic appearance. Also, five did not have a detectable IG-myc Burkitt's translocation, whereas the others contained an IG-myc fusion, mostly in simple karyotypes. Of the 176 lymphomas without the molecular signature for Burkitt's lymphoma, 155 were diffuse large-B-cell lymphomas. Of these 155 cases, 21 percent had a chromosomal breakpoint at the myc locus associated with complex chromosomal changes and an unfavorable clinical course.
Conclusions: Our molecular definition of Burkitt's lymphoma clarifies and extends the spectrum of the WHO criteria for Burkitt's lymphoma. In mature aggressive B-cell lymphomas without a gene signature for Burkitt's lymphoma, chromosomal breakpoints at the myc locus were associated with an adverse clinical outcome.
Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.